Echoes of Power, Part I: Anger
Larger Summary than FFnet's tiny allowance:
Harry mysteriously disappeared at the age of six, and then benefited from years of tutoring by an old family friend. With the return of Voldemort, it is finally time for a fifteen-year-old, well-trained, sarcastic and somewhat cynical Harry to take up his place at Hogwarts. Life at Hogwarts, however, is not always what Harry anticipated. There, secrets are told, allies are discovered, and the journey to power begins. Completely AU.
Preface A/N to Echoes of Power at FanFiction-net:
You may or may not have read this elsewhere. Chapters 1 through 20 were posted originally at SIYE, and all subsequent chapters are posting in multiple locations – but this remains a WIP. This version is a re-edited one, with some of the earlier terms (blatant Americanisms) fixed, as well as some smoothing of rough transitions. If you have not previously read this work, I hope you enjoy it. If you have previously read this, please rest assured that no plot details are being changed in any way. The story framework simply will not allow such. A huge round of thanks to the full beta team working on this story.
That said, I wish to bring your attention to the fact that this is an AU story. It's very much an AU story. The characters have the same names, but not the same histories, as in JKR's canon. That means that if you can't handle the fact that all of the major characters are going to behave differently – for they now have different motivations, different histories, and correspondingly different dreams – then you probably want to go read something else.
If you find you don't like what you're reading, it's quite simple: stop reading. Go read something else. I don't want to hear complaints about any shipping in the story, or how once-upon-a-time you read a story that had a good/bad/whatever characterization of someone, and now you can't stand / always want to have some character in the story. Really. I don't care. This story will not change the plot because you ask me to, no matter how you ask.
For those that wonder why the preface A/N is so strongly worded here at FFnet, let me explain that there is a growing trend of character bashing JKR's creations based on fanfic readings. Some people read so many poorly written stories involving character X, eventually coming to hate that character, that they then become jihadist in their efforts to make everyone else share their view. Those that refuse to share their view become targets of harassment and so forth. It's really quite pathetic.
However, as I have been repeatedly targeted during the writing of this story, I'm trying to fairly warn everyone off that tends to fall into that category. (Really, how hard is it to understand that if you don't like it, just stop reading?) I have disabled anonymous reviews and PMs due to the harassment levels involved. I don't need this type of disclaimer for the other sites I publish at (see my author page for details). Ultimately, the illusion of anonymity that the Internet provides (and FFnet contributes to for how they handle accounts) has led to this situation where people feel that social norms shouldn't apply to their abnormal behavior and views. Some of the chapters in this story carry A/Ns that are downright patronizing, but they are targeted to select groups that do the most harassment and have warning labels on them accordingly.
If you're still here and still interested in giving this story a go, by all means have at. You may run across some things that feel "cliche" or the like -- but you'll need to consider how may cliches I am re-using versus how many other stories have copied what you'll find here. This story was completely plot-sketched in 2005, with chapter posts begun during 2006, and several readers have pointed out how many things I introduced have become commonplace now. There are elements I borrow from others, but you'll see credit given when that happens.
Part I: Anger
Chapter 1: Playing Nicely With Others
1 September 1995
"Mind if we join you?" the gangly red-headed boy asked. The only occupant in the compartment – a black-haired boy in plain black robes – shrugged in reply. "Thanks!"
The peace and quiet of the compartment was then lost as the tall redhead was followed by a bushy-haired brunette and a slightly chubby boy of medium height with dark hair. Another redhead, this one a smaller girl, and a honey-blonde girl brought up the rear, closing the door behind them. After a few moments of chatter and confusion as trunks and other things were stowed away, the two redheads and the brunette sat across from the black-haired boy while the blonde girl and chubby boy sat beside him.
"Hi, I'm Ron Weasley, by the way!" the redhead said, extending his hand.
The dark-haired boy looked at the proffered hand for a moment, then reached out and shook it with a grip that clearly that surprised the redhead.
Jerking a thumb at the girl sitting across from him, Ron said, "That's my sister, Ginny." He then pointed to the brunette beside him and said, "This is Hermione Granger. Try not to let her questions run you ragged." Everyone chuckled slightly at this, while Hermione shot Ron a dirty look. "That's Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbot." The two sitting next to him nodded in turn.
The black-haired boy nodded to each of them in turn as they were introduced. "I'm Harry."
Hermione shot Ron another dirty look before turning back to Harry. "I didn't know Hogwarts took transfer students. Where are you from? What year are you in? We're all fifth years."
Harry gazed curiously at Ginny, then at Ron before asking, "Fraternal?"
While Ron and Ginny looked at Harry in confusion, Hermione laughed. "No, they're not twins. Ron's birthday is in early September like mine, but Ginny's is in mid-August. Hogwarts will only accept you if you're eleven years old before the first of September."
"Twins?" ask Ron. "What sort of barmy question is that? Do we look like twins? I'm a boy, for Merlin's sake, and she's a girl!"
Harry smirked at Ron and gestured toward Ginny. "Trust me, I realized that she's a girl. Now if you were one, you would've had to be one of the ugliest girls I've ever met."
Ginny let out a muffled chuckle while Neville and Hannah started laughing outright.
Hermione smacked Ron in the back of the head. "No, Ron! Fraternal twins! It's when two eggs are fertilized at the same time. Identical twins, like Fred and George, or Parvati and Padma, are the division of one egg. Fraternal twins never look alike and frequently aren't the same sex."
Ron looked confused, as did Ginny and Neville. "What? Twins that don't look alike? Is that some kind of Muggle thing?"
It was Hermione's turn to look puzzled. "What do you mean? Have there never been fraternal... err, non-identical twins in a magical family before?"
Ginny shook her head.
"That's impossible! I'll have to ask Professor McGonagall about it. Surely it's happened at least once... unless the magic is why... but Muggles... Squibs…?" Hermione trailed off, muttering to herself about what the implications of magic itself causing identical twins might be.
Ginny looked back at Harry and asked, "Are you going to answer Hermione's questions?"
Harry winked at her. "Sorry, I don't know how to use magic to make twins. I just know how to make them the old-fashioned way."
Ginny glared at him while Hermione continued to stare into space; Hannah giggled. Neville merely shook his head as though in resignation.
Harry shrugged and ignored the reactions. "I've been, err, home-schooled, I suppose. I don't know what year I'll be in if it's based on ability. But if it's just based on age, then I'll be a fifth year too." Harry looked at Neville. "Do they test for natural gifts before choosing which class to put you in , or just let you find out as you go along?"
Neville shook his head. "I've never been tested, and I haven't heard about anyone else being tested. Have you been tested?"
Harry decided that that bit of information was definitely not getting out. "Err, no, I've just heard of it."
Hannah leaned back a bit before entering the conversation. "Why were you home-schooled? Everyone I know who got letters of acceptance to Hogwarts actually went to Hogwarts! Only the best students can attend! I know there are other schools, but they're a lot smaller and don't have Hogwarts' reputation."
"Oi! Home-schooled! That means no Quidditch!" exclaimed Ron with a horrified look. "That's just wrong!"
Harry just shrugged in response. "It's a pretty complicated story, and I'd rather not get into it. There were really good reasons for it at the time, reasons that have stopped being so valid recently, so... here I am." The abrupt termination to this line of inquiry seemed to put Hannah off but only seemed to perk Ron's and Ginny's interest.
"Ooooh," said Ginny. "You've got secrets... I can't wait to tell Fred and George. You'll be on your knees begging to confess before they get finished with you!"
Ron laughed at her, and motioned for Harry to come closer.
"Fred and George are our brothers. They prank anyone, anytime, anywhere, for any reason. And they pride themselves on finding out every secret…." Ron smirked at Harry before continuing. "If we were to just happen to let slip that you have major secrecy issues, well, it's not like we would be doing anything to you, is it?"
Harry chuckled. "So, the Weasleys like to ferret out deep dark secrets, do they? You do know that the ferret is part of the weasel family?" Most of the group laughed. "You're welcome to tell Fred and George. Make sure to mention to them that if they want to pull pranks, I'm certainly not going to take it lying down - I will retaliate and escalate."
"Harry, Harry... you have no absolutely idea what you're getting into, here." Neville shook his head mournfully. "I've been pranked by them ever since I started at Hogwarts. What shall we put on your gravestone? 'Here lies Harry, he thought he could prank the Weasleys'! It doesn't sound too good to me. What's your last name, by the way?"
The conversation stopped abruptly when the sliding door to the compartment was thrown open after the merest suggestion of a knock. A pale blonde boy with pointed features stood in the doorway.
"So, is it true? My father said that Harry Potter would finally be on the train to Hogwarts, and this is the last compartment to check. That would be you, I suppose?" the boy asked, looking directly at Harry after glancing around at the others.
Harry merely quirked one eyebrow, inviting further information. Everyone else in the compartment just stared in shock, either at the blonde or at Harry.
The blonde boy smiled broadly, strongly implying somehow that he knew that Harry had yet to identify himself to the others. This seemed to further shock the other students who must have thought the blonde incapable of anything but sneering. "I'm Malfoy. Draco Malfoy. I'd like to help you adjust to the Wizarding world. After all, there are those of us with a lot more history in the Wizarding world than some others I could mention, and I'd like to help you learn about all the traditions and important things. Interested?"
The blonde boy may have been smiling and speaking politely, but Harry could feel a certain undercurrent in his statements. Looking Malfoy right in the eye, he asked, "And how could what you offer be any better than just reading the introduction to A Modern Guide for Life in Magical Europe?"
Hermione shot Harry a funny look, but Harry was not about to admit to Malfoy that he had just made up the book title on the spot.
Malfoy smirked in a superior manner. "That old book? Surely you realize that the author had far less knowledge than many of the old families possess. So you can see that it would be better for you to learn the truth about things in person. After all, very few families have as rich and as glorious a history to draw on as the Malfoys." His smug expression clearly indicated that only a complete idiot would refuse such unrivalled generosity. Harry just laughed under his breath at Malfoy's implication that he had read a fictitious book.
Malfoy then gestured to the two hulking boys behind him. "My friends, Crabbe and Goyle. They're also from proud families with a long and noble tradition."
Harry studied the way the two boys positioned themselves and realized they were less friends and more muscle to be applied as directed. The two boys eyed Harry up and down before nodding briefly at him. Harry wondered if they were atypical in the magical world and actually knew how to fight as opposed to just looking imposing. Most of the magical people whom he had encountered in, or out of, fights had been completely hopeless when faced with someone who knew what they were doing.
Harry looked back at Malfoy. "Let me see if I understand what you're saying. I'll sum up, shall I?" The blonde gave a decisive nod, as though commanding a particularly obedient dog. Harry gave him a bland smile. The others in the compartment looked quite worried that Harry was smiling, as it probably seemed very likely to them that he would follow Malfoy out. After all, Harry had never once smiled like that with any of them.
"You, Draco Malfoy, are offering to tutor me in the history and customs of the Wizarding world, to make sure I don't do something against one of your taboos." Harry paused while the blonde nodded.
"You, Draco, son of a Death Eater, proponent of racism and bigotry, will offer to be my best mate in order to report back to your Death Eater father and incompetent half-blood lord and master what I'm doing and am capable of." Malfoy started turning red as Crabbe and Goyle moved to stand next to their brain rather than behind him.
"You, slime ball extraordinaire, are suggesting that those of less than so-called pureblood and substantial wealth are barely worthy of being peasants in your new order. So you're also offering to try and brainwash me into your tripe-laden beliefs. I believe, after no reflection at all, that I'd have to say that's a big no in reply."
Turning away from Malfoy, who had become almost Weasley-haired-red in his embarrassment and anger, Harry looked at Ron and continued their conversation as though they had not been rudely interrupted. "So, what were you saying about Quidditch, Ron?" Ron just continued to stare at Harry, slack-jawed in amazement.
Malfoy hissed vehemently and ground out through gritted teeth, "You'll meet the same end as your parents, Potter. Your days are numbered. Just remember that I offered you the chance to be truly great."
Harry merely laughed at the blonde and dismissed him with the merest flick of his hand. "Run along now, Draco dear. You're about as big a threat as a well-bred miniature poodle, and your efforts at intimidation are pretty pathetic – and that is erring on the side of generosity."
This proved to be too much for Malfoy, who gestured sharply at Crabbe and Goyle. The two large boys immediately stepped in front of him and started to reach out for Harry.
Moving faster than anyone else in the compartment, Harry shot to his feet, forcing the two boys to stop and refocus on his new location.
"If any of you try to touch me or use magic on me, I am publicly warning you – I will treat you as life-threatening attackers and respond accordingly. So back off." The cold and menacing tone of his voice would have given any reasonably sane person pause, but it just seemed to bounce off the trio of Death Eater sympathisers.
Malfoy sneered. "Time for a bit of a lesson in humility, Potter."
Crabbe and Goyle each took one step forward to crowd Harry, but even before Ron, Ginny or Neville could reach for their wands, Harry exploded into action.
His right foot shot forward and around, slamming into Goyle's jaw. The pretend thug stumbled backward, straight into Malfoy. As Crabbe threw a punch, Harry deflected it and trapped it in his own right hand, forcibly drawing the arm to full extension. Harry's left forearm came down in a hammer blow and slammed through the boy's elbow, pushing it far beyond mere hyperextension. Crabbe's scream of pain as he fell was silenced as Harry's left knee slammed into the back of his head.
Malfoy pushed Goyle off of him and both boys got to their feet while Harry was turning to continue the attack, leaving Crabbe to fall unconscious. Malfoy was just drawing his wand as Harry took on the other thug mockery. With a planted left foot and locked hips, his right heel shot out to the centre of Goyle's face with a powerful thrust. The sickening crunch was accompanied by a bright scarlet spray of blood from where his nose and teeth had once been. While Goyle fell backward, bouncing off the wall, Malfoy's arm shot forward as he screamed, "Diffindo!"
Harry spun slightly to Malfoy's left side as his left arm knocked Malfoy's wand hand toward the ceiling. The Slicing Curse cut a deep trench through the ceiling of the compartment. Harry's right palm seized Malfoy's chin, forcing the head straight up and backward. Malfoy completely lost his balance and fell hard against the corridor wall, and Harry jerked the wand from Malfoy's grasp with his left hand. Switching Malfoy's wand to his right hand, Harry laughed at the blonde.
"Ooooh, would you look at that, the pureblood Death Eater sycophant who licks the arse of a half-blood tyrant got his own arse kicked by a half-blood who didn't even need to use magic."
The corridor was filled with other students, no doubt attracted by the screams from Crabbe and the sounds of a fight. Several gasped in apparent astonishment at the sight of the Prince of Slytherin leaning on the wall, completely humiliated.
Malfoy surged up in anger and threw a punch at Harry. Harry blocked the pathetic attempt with his left arm while driving his right hand forward at Malfoy's chest. The blonde's wand shot off sparks and started hissing as Harry used it as a spike to nail Malfoy's shoulder to the wall. The blonde boy started screaming in pain, eyes widening in horror as Harry casually snapped off the bit of wand left sticking out. Harry tossed the wand fragment at the boy's feet with a snort of disgust.
"Here's your lesson, Death Eater-boy. Don't try to attack me again, or I promise you, I will kill you. I do hope you enjoy the rest of the trip, Draco." Harry stalked back into his compartment and threw the bodies of Crabbe and Goyle out of it. Glaring at Malfoy's piteous moans, Harry grunted in irritation. "If you don't shut up, I'll be forced to magically silence you. Stop whinging, you big girl's blouse. Act your age and not your shoe size. " Malfoy obviously gritted his teeth in an attempt to stop moaning in pain and just sat sniffling and breathing heavily. Harry then slammed the door closed, effectively scaring off any would-be questioners.
Wiping some of Malfoy's blood from his hands and onto his trousers, he looked back at some openly surprised people in the compartment, who were clearly in various stages of shock, some even half-in and half-out of their seats. Harry sat back down casually, "What were you saying about Quidditch again, Ron?"
"You... you... you're Harry Potter?" Ron asked in a whisper.
Harry just sighed, looked at them all, and flipped his hair up to expose the scar.
"Blimey!" muttered Ron. Ginny said something very quietly that suspiciously sounded like "Eeep!" while Neville just leaned away from Harry looking scared. Hermione's eyes became bright and focused on Harry, while Hannah had gone as pale as a ghost.
"I've read about you! You're in–" Hermione began.
"It's all bollocks, Hermione. Just because you read it in a book somewhere doesn't make it true, you know. I've read everything that the standard books on the subject have said about me, and it's all complete tosh. Anything you read about me specifically was totally fabricated and has no basis in reality." Harry stared at her while she slowly reddened.
Sighing again, Harry concentrated on the scenery passing by the window. "Look, we were getting along perfectly fine before you found out that I'm some supposed mythical magical saviour. No one really knows why that event happened, and I certainly don't think it's right for me to take the credit for my parents' sacrifice. So can you all please just forget all that Boy-Who-Lived rubbish?"
A rather heavy silence settled over the compartment. Harry sighed in resignation. He just knew that actually living in the magical world was going to be very challenging to his limited patience and tolerance for stupidity. One of these days he was going to have to let go of his frustrations, but not today.
"Err, why didn't you come to Hogwarts before?" Hermione asked slowly.
Harry just shrugged as he was rapidly becoming accustomed to doing and repeated himself. "I already told you that it's complicated. Maybe someday we'll talk about it, but maybe we won't." Harry decided the safest place to rest his eyes was on the ceiling; that way, he was less aware of the intense scrutiny of the other people in the compartment.
"Harry?" Ginny asked quietly.
"How did you learn to fight like that?" Harry could hear the indrawn breath of several of the students.
"I've been in training for years. It's something in general called martial arts, but my particular fighting style is aikijujitsu. It's what the traditional Japanese samurai trained in a long time ago." The silence permeated the compartment.
"Harry?" Ginny started again.
"Is it possible... uh, would you consider... uh, teaching that?" Ginny paused before continuing in a rush. "I'd really like to learn."
"Why?" Harry asked, still staring absently at the gash in the ceiling left from Malfoy's curse. Based on the depth and length, Harry suspected it would have been fatal to more than just he had he not knocked Malfoy's arm out of the way.
A sudden rustling of shifting bodies caused Harry to look back at the other students. Everyone seemed distinctly uncomfortable. Ginny was staring at the floor, and Hermione looked a little scared. Ron was clearly trying to figure out how to talk about something when Neville spoke up.
"There have been a lot of... altercations... over the past four years. There is a professor who is... less than fair, and he's the head of Slytherin House. No matter how physically aggressive his students get, he will never punish them and the Headmaster just ignores the problem." Neville shrugged awkwardly. "If we try to fight back with magic, we get into trouble. A couple of times when we've... been a little physical in response, we haven't been reprimanded. Problem is, none of us really know how to fight very well."
Harry looked closely at the eyes of each student. He saw mostly despair and frustration, but there was a glimmer of hope. "You want me to teach just you lot?" Harry asked.
Hermione shuffled her feet and cautiously replied, "Well, Malfoy and his crew kind of run over everyone else as well... would you consider teaching others who want to learn too?"
Harry put his head in his hands and sighed again. "Look, I haven't agreed to teach anyone yet. I'll think about it, alright? If I see any kind of crap going on, I'll definitely put a stop to it. I think I can handle Draco and his cronies. If Snape is such a problem, he's likely to be hard to work around. I'll think how to do that. Good enough for now?"
Ginny smiled weakly. "We'll ask you again in a few days, shall we?"
Harry nodded briefly. "Can you tell me just how far this problem has gone?" he asked.
Now everyone except Harry was looking at the floor. Harry made an executive decision to wait them out and resumed his intense study of the ceiling damage.
"Well," Ron started quietly. "A lot of us have learned to travel in groups. The – uh – pureblood supporters are left alone, but almost everyone else…." Ron tapered off, looking out the window.
Neville picked up where Ron left off. "There are rumours of beatings, or... ahh... overly affectionate advances, you know?" Harry looked at Neville impassively. Neville appeared a little ashamed about the situation. "We've complained to the professors, to the Heads of our Houses, but nothing ever really changes. Last year, well, people who complained ended up making a lot of involuntary visits to the hospital wing." Neville rubbed absently at his left arm, which made Harry think he had suffered some of the more aggressive behaviour himself.
Harry looked directly at Ginny, who was still looking at the floor. "Ginny." She glanced briefly at Harry before averting her brown eyes again. "Ginny, please look at me." Ginny, with visible reluctance, lifted her gaze to Harry, her face blushing slightly. "Why haven't you fought back in other ways? Ambush? Physically kicking the living crap out of them? Sabotage? Anything?"
Ron opened his mouth, as did Hermione, but Harry shot his hand out, palm facing them. Harry only wanted to hear Ginny's response.
A sharp rapping on the compartment door caused everyone to look at the door, where a pretty Asian girl was looking through the glass. Ginny got up and opened the door. "Cho," she said while nodding briefly.
Cho stepped in and glanced at everyone before settling her gaze on Harry. "Err, you're Harry Potter, yes?" she asked hesitantly.
Harry glanced at the shiny badge on her robe and realized that she must be some kind of authority figure among students. Nodding briefly, he waited to find out what was coming.
"Err, look, regardless of what I feel about it, I've been ordered to come and collect you for what you did to Malfoy and his boys. You've got to come with me, okay?"
Harry shrugged, waved vaguely at the other students and followed Cho to the front of the train.
As the door was closing, Harry heard Hermione asking Ron, "What were those silver emblems on the shoulders of his robes…?" Harry smirked, looking forward to how the Headmaster was going to explain to his students what was coming.
The staff was already aware of his arrival, and Harry was pleased to see that some of his preparations would be coming in quite handy within a few hours. He was somewhat surprised Malfoy had ignored the embroidered mace on his left shoulder and the dagger on the right, given all his prattling about tradition and history.
As Harry passed several compartments, he noted the many grinning faces. Several students looked up as he passed to give tentative nods or smiles. A pair of twin red-headed boys gave him a thumbs-up gesture and a mocking salute.
"Uh, Cho, wasn't it?" Harry asked the pretty girl. She looked at Harry and nodded. "I thought people were anxious or hesitant when I watched them milling around on the platform, but now they all seem to be smiling. Why? It's more than just being happy about going back to school, isn't it?"
Cho laughed quietly and said just one word. "Malfoy."
"Ah, I see." Harry reflected for a few more moments before realizing that the new train carriage which they had stepped into had compartments which seemed to be filled with green-trimmed students, who were all either outright hostile in appearance or carefully neutral in expression. "The Slytherins seem rather concentrated," Harry noted as they left the carriage.
"They don't believe in mingling with their inferiors," Cho replied. Finally she stopped outside the very first compartment on the train. "You're going to be Portkeyed to Hogwarts with Malfoy and his two sidekicks. Professor Snape is waiting for you in there. Best of luck." She smiled briefly at him. Harry nodded at her and stepped into the compartment.
A tall but stooped professor with matted black hair which looked a little unclean glared at Harry as he entered. "Potter... we meet at last," he said in an icy tone, a deep sneer on his face. "Attacking other students and you're not even at school yet. I'll see you expelled for this, I think."
Harry deliberately yawned at the professor, completely underwhelmed at the feeble attempt at intimidation. As Harry continued to look impassively at the man that was flexing his jaw muscles silently, he suddenly felt a slight brush against his mental shields. Yelling inwardly in triumph, Harry merely raised one eyebrow and waited for the man to realize he was doomed to failure. After all, Harry had shields constructed after extensive training by the best tutors money could buy for five years now. Nothing could get in; Harry's mind was immune even to attacks from co-ordinated multiple opponents.
Glaring hard at Harry, Snape apparently gave up his efforts and pointed to the rope which connected the three injured and unconscious students. "Take hold of the Portkey. We're going to Hogwarts now."
Harry shifted his gaze to the tall man with a shaved head and dark skin standing in the corner. Snape briefly flicked his eyes in the same direction. "Auror Shacklebolt will be accompanying us. You didn't think a vicious assault on students would go unpunished, did you?"
Harry lazily grabbed the rope and watched as Snape waited for the Auror to touch it. Snape then tapped his wand against it, whisking them all straight to the hospital wing.
Harry landed lightly on his feet and took a quick glance around the room. The matron of the hospital wing was standing nearby and quickly levitated the three injured boys into beds to begin working on them.
"We're going to the Headmaster, Potter." Snape pointed to the doors and barked at Harry, "Move, or I will force you." Harry merely rolled his eyes and gestured for Snape to precede him.
Snape turned sharply, his cloak billowing behind him, and stalked through the doors. Harry followed at a quick pace, hearing the tall Auror fall in behind him, and started considering how to manage Snape.
Considering what Ginny and her friends had told him, Snape was a major part of the problem with individuals like Malfoy. It was people like Snape who, either directly or indirectly, encouraged the blood purity dogma which was poisoning the magical world in Europe. The man's casual use of Legilimency was illegal, and Harry was curious how much rope he could provide Snape to hang himself with. At the very least, Harry felt he could fill quite a few evenings and weekends finding ways to improve Snape's behaviour or, failing that, to induce a stroke or some other debilitating condition. Prison suddenly seemed like a kinder alternative for the man as Harry considered the point.
Harry and his two escorts cum guards entered the office space of the Headmaster, who nodded briefly to apparently acknowledge the adults' presence. Dumbledore looked at Harry for a long moment and then pointed to the lone chair in front of his desk. As Harry sat down, Dumbledore pointed to each person in the room in turn. "Mr Potter, these are Professor Sprout, the Head of Hufflepuff House; Professor Snape, whom you have met, is the Head of Slytherin House; Professor Flitwick, the Head of Ravenclaw House; and Professor McGonagall, the Head of Gryffindor. Senior Auror Shacklebolt is here as an official witness and, if necessary, will press charges and arrest anyone who may be found to require trial or expulsion. Is this quite clear?" The twinkle Harry had heard so much about was nowhere evident in the Headmaster's eyes. Harry nodded his acceptance.
The Headmaster surveyed Harry and then continued in a very serious tone. "Mr Potter, you are being accused of the attempted murder of three students. You will be charged and arrested if you cannot justify your actions to us."
Snape looked ready to murder with his bare hands. "Headmaster! There were witnesses! Why are we even having this discussion?! Potter should be expelled, his wand snapped, and charged with attempted murder!"
The Headmaster glanced at Snape briefly before looking at the Auror. "Kingsley, as Head of the Wizengamot, I would like to request that you commit your memories of these events to a judicial Pensieve for later examination by the full Wizengamot in case any trial may be necessary. Is this agreeable to you?"
"Yes, Professor Dumbledore, it is" Harry was mildly surprised that the tall Auror had a quieter voice than he had expected – it was not the rumbling bass one would expect from such a physically powerful character; his voice was soft and, in some ways, almost melodious.
"Very well. First, Mr Potter, I would like to hear the events that transpired from your point of view. Please be aware that you will be subject to questioning, and anything you say here may be used in evidence against you, should the decision be made to go to trial as a result of what has happened today on the Hogwarts Express."
Harry casually surveyed the people in the room. Sighing slightly, Harry thought it was high time to start cleaning up things around Hogwarts. "Headmaster, before I do that, I would like to officially confirm what Hogwarts will do to any student who makes an attempt to violently assault another student. This is separate to whatever the Ministry or the Law may pronounce. The Head of Slytherin, your Professor Snape, indicated that the prescribed punishment included expulsion and wand snapping. Would you please confirm that what I have been told is correct?"
Dumbledore looked momentarily surprised before his features settled back into a blank mask. In turn, each of the respective Heads of House agreed as Dumbledore asked their opinions. Any student found guilty of such an offence would be expelled and their wand snapped if found guilty. Snape seemed to be positively gloating.
"Okay, now is that just for today's little scrum, or would that apply to all students at all times when they are officially in the care of Hogwarts, be it on the train, field trips, classrooms, or what not?" Harry was listening carefully as he was looking forward to using this conversation many times in the future.
Once again, the assembled professors and the headmaster all agreed with this comment.
"Excellent! Then I'm happy to say that, first I am innocent of all such charges, and that I also expect to see Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle expelled and their wands snapped very shortly!" Harry sat back with a serious look on his face.
Hearing this, Snape lost whatever composure he may once have possessed. "What the devil are you talking about, Potter? Your delusions or fancy stories won't save you now. We have over a dozen witnesses to your vicious and unprovoked assault on Draco Malfoy, a highly-respected senior student in this school!!"
Dumbledore held a hand up to silence Snape and looked very carefully at Harry. "Do you have any evidence of this?"
Harry grinned at Snape, winked slyly at Dumbledore, and reached into his robes to withdraw a small, silvery orb, no larger than a Muggle golf ball. "This is one of my many sensory monitors. I usually have one running all the time. As I am sure you all know, this device will record everything I see and hear in an unalterable format which is admissible as courtroom evidence." Harry paused here to savour Snape's rather sallow complexion growing even sallower. "Few people seem to recall that these monitors also record magical activities, such as the signature of spells cast. Correct me if I'm wrong, Auror Shacklebolt, but is it not the case that most Aurors carry these whilst on duty and surrender them to the department at the end of every shift?"
Shacklebolt stirred slightly. "In the case of Senior Aurors, yes, you are quite correct. However, most junior Aurors do not carry them, as the time it takes to review so many monitors is considered an excessive drain on manpower within the department. Aurors on special assignments, such as investigations, are an exception to that general rule however. We use them because, unlike Pensieve memories, they cannot be altered or tampered with in any manner which does not visibly alter the sphere."
Harry nodded politely to the Auror. Snape was now chalk white, and Dumbledore's eyes had recovered some of their legendary twinkle. Harry handed the sphere to the Auror and asked him, "Could you please verify that this sphere remains unaltered and confirm to us that it has not been tampered with?"
The Auror spent several minutes examining the sphere closely and casting a series of spells on it. It was clear to everyone in the room that all the tests were negative and that the sphere was in perfect condition. Shacklebolt handed it back to Harry. "It's fine. No tampering has taken place. My own sensory monitor has recorded these tests, and I would like to request that you allow me to copy yours when this meeting is finished."
Harry nodded in affirmation. Pulling out his wand, he set the sphere on the edge of Dumbledore's desk and then looked directly into the headmaster's eyes. "I started this recording when I arrived outside the entrance to the King's Cross station. I will now play it back. I beg your indulgence, as I've never learned how to speed up the playback, so unless someone here knows how to skip to the relevant place, we're going to have to watch about thirty minutes of unrelated activity before the events under investigation transpired."
Dumbledore pulled out his own wand and smiled at Harry. "Please allow me, Mr Potter. With your permission, I can adjust the playback rate. Just tell me when the events will begin to unfold." With a flick and jab of his wand, the sphere projected a scene of bustling Muggles in front of King's Cross station. As Dumbledore made erratic motions with his wand, the playback accelerated to nearly ten times normal rate.
Harry watched passively until the train got underway and then motioned to the headmaster. "If you could slow it down a bit, it won't be long now." Dumbledore dropped the playback rate to a mere thrice normal, and Harry tried to recall the conversation on the train. "Right about now, sir," Harry said, "if you would be so kind...?"
Dumbledore gave a final flick with his wand and the sphere returned to normal, projecting what Harry was seeing as well as hearing. Those assembled watched in silence as Malfoy and his followers attacked Harry, despite his public warning, and how Harry defeated each of them soundly.
When Malfoy sprang up to continue the attack and Harry drove the wand into his shoulder, Professor Sprout let out a short gasp. Immediately after playback-Harry slammed the door to the compartment closed, Harry looked at Dumbledore. "Please stop it here but don't reset the playback. There will be more we need to discuss after we deal with your expulsion of Draco Malfoy and his cohorts."
Meanwhile, Snape was staring at Harry and Dumbledore with his mouth open in shock like a fish out of water. Shacklebolt showed no emotion, but Harry had the distinct impression that he was privately quite entertained. Dumbledore, however, was closely watching Harry, and while his mythical twinkle was not immediately apparent to a casual observer, there was no doubt that some of that twinkle was definitely present.
"Well," the Headmaster started, "it seems that Mr Potter was defending himself from a vicious attack. It seems to me that Mr Potter is quite correct; based on our earlier agreement, Mr Malfoy, Mr Crabbe, and Mr Goyle should face expulsion and wand-breaking. Does anyone disagree with this?"
Harry looked up. "I do. I would also like press charges against Draco Malfoy for at least six attempted murders – if his curse had hit anyone, it would have, in all probability, been fatal to the targets, and based on the damage to the roof of the compartment, it would have definitely killed more than one person."
Snape was clearly fuming by this point. "Come now, Mr Potter, that curse could never have been fatal."
Harry merely pointed to the playback, which showed a deep gash across the metal ceiling of the train compartment. "That 'non-fatal' curse gouged a two-inch wide and several-foot-long gash in solid steel. I would not like to imagine what it would have done to someone's body." Harry looked contemptuously at Snape. "Auror Shacklebolt, do you not agree that, at a minimum, I can press charges of six counts of attempted murder on Mr Malfoy and attempted assault of my person on Mr Crabbe and Mr Goyle?"
Shacklebolt simply nodded his head. Dumbledore look resigned to the situation. "Very well, Mr Potter. I hereby declare those three students are expelled and that their wands to be snapped. Furthermore, I remand them into the custody of Auror Shacklebolt for processing as soon as this meeting is over. Is there anything else related to these events which we need to deal with, or may we release Auror Shacklebolt now?" Dumbledore was looking expectantly at Harry, as though there was nothing else to be discussed.
Harry looked at Snape with a large, fake smile. "Oh yes, there is one other thing. Auror Shacklebolt, is it still the law that any attempt to use Legilimency on another without their consent or a direct order from the Wizengamot is an offence punishable by at least a one thousand Galleon fine and a week in Azkaban?"
Snape became motionless, as the Auror gave Harry a hard stare. "It is. Why?"
Harry smiled even more broadly at Snape. "Is it also still true that to perform these acts upon a minor without said authorisation or a legal guardian's consent makes the fine ten thousand Galleons, the prison sentence six months, and an automatic restraining order for the perpetrator so that they cannot be within fifty yards on all minors when not closely monitored by an Auror?"
Snape was now looking frantically at Dumbledore, who was frowning sharply at Harry. Shacklebolt, however, had no choice but to reply, as his own sensory monitor was activated upon entering Hogwarts so that all of these events would be used for evidence. "Yes. Are you accusing someone of these acts?"
Harry looked right at Dumbledore before nodding his head. "Professor Snape attempted Legilimency on me when I was taken to him on the train. I hereby officially declare that I would like to press those very charges against him. If you would be so kind as to advance the playback, you will see the evidence in the sensory monitor. As you all should know, Legilimency will cause a unique azure blue aura to appear around the caster and an aura of gold around the recipient. You will see that Professor Snape did attempt Legilimency upon me without any warning or consent, and that I am clearly still a minor as all the world is aware."
At this statement, there was absolute silence in the room. Even the phoenix in the corner was completely motionless. Dumbledore looked at Harry and almost gave the impression of begging with his eyes. "Mr Potter, are you quite sure that you wish to press charges against Professor Snape? He has many important duties, many of which simply cannot be performed by anyone else."
"No one man is an island, Headmaster." Harry offered the Headmaster a slight frown as he considered Dumbledore's request. "I will press charges. I am asking you again, as Chief Wizard of the Wizengamot, to advance the playback to the point where your Professor Snape attempted Legilimency upon me, in defiance of the law, and to bear witness to his unlawful behaviour."
With a resigned sigh and an obviously cautionary look at Snape, Dumbledore adjusted the playback on the sphere until everyone could easily see the indicated auras and the ample evidence completely damning Snape.
Auror Shacklebolt stepped up to Snape and extended his hand. "Severus Snape, I hereby charge you with unlawful mental assault upon a minor without provocation or authorisation. Hand me your wand, and I'll accept your word of compliance to accompany me to the Ministry along with the students already being charged."
Snape gave Harry a glare of such pure loathing and profound hate that Harry was surprised that the phoenix failed to react in any way. Handing his wand to Shacklebolt, Snape stared hard at Dumbledore before moving toward the door.
"One moment," called Dumbledore. "Is there anything else, Mr Potter?"
Harry shook his head. "No. Auror Shacklebolt, please make a copy of my monitor, as I wish to retain the original in my possession for safekeeping."
Shacklebolt produced a second sensory monitor, placed it next to Harry's and cast a short charm. The new sphere glowed bright yellow for what felt like two minutes or so before it returned to its usual silvery colour. Everyone in the room was silent in the awkward moments involved. Finally picking up his copy of the monitor orb, Shacklebolt nodded to everyone and went to stand by Snape at the door.
"Mr Potter," Dumbledore began, "if you would please wait here for a few minutes. I must accompany Auror Shacklebolt to the hospital wing to hand out the punishment to your attackers, and then I will be back. There is much I wish to discuss with you. Is this acceptable? It will be some time yet before the other students arrive."
Harry nodded his head indicating that this was. Dumbledore looked at the other professors. "Minerva, as Deputy Headmistress, I need you to join me. If the rest of you wouldn't mind waiting here, we will return shortly. Feel free to ask the house elves for refreshments."
To make it clear, I have tampered with the birthdays of Ginny and Ron compared to JKR's canon – yes, they are both in fifth year.
Canon Birthdays: Hermione, Sep 1979; Ron, Mar 1980; Harry, Jul 1980; Ginny, Aug 1981.
AU Birthdays: Hermione, Sep 1979; Ron, Sep 1979; Harry, Jul 1980; Ginny, Aug 1980.
I will state it here for the record since this chapter (and future chapters) uses phrasing that is deliberately ambiguous regarding what has been "going on" at Hogwarts: Ginny was not raped.
A big thank you to my genius betas who have valiantly strived to make this story better, despite my crafty attempts to make it incomprehensible. So, immeasurable thanks to cwarbeck and Chreechree. Thanks to Reg for Brit-picking, to Sovran for a sanity check plus tweaks, and Sherylyn for her polishing touches before it gets uploaded. Parakletos gave a thorough once-over for the re-editing process to be sure we missed nothing (or at least, as little as possible).